The Damned Yangzi !!!

Our next adventure was a boat trip along the Yangzi river. Sorrowly left Chengdu at some ungodly hour (07:00 am!!) where we were piled into a mini bus full of Chinese and shat ourselves that we had to spend the next four hours crammed in like Sardines. Fortunately were transferred onto a bigger bus at the outskirts of the town which would take us the four hour trip to Chongqing.

Bus trip was interesting and uncomfortable and again were surrounded by Chinese spitting on the floor and eating loudly. Bus driver insisted on beeping his horn every 2 minutes for no apparent reason and was rather heavy on the brakes to say the least. About half way into the trip heard a bang and everyone got up to look out the window. Took the bus driver a little longer to realise but eventually stopped. Transpired that the bang was the hold doors flinging open and we had left a collection of luggage strewn across the road. Fortunately our bags had not tried to escape but several had to be collected from about a mile away. Had several stops along the way where we got to experience some quite lovely public facilities which ranged in smells from unpleasant to revolting.

Arrived in Chongqing at about 13:00 and caught our first glimpse of the Yangzi where we were bundled off the bus onto a smaller bus lead by a young girl with limited English and my name held up on a bit of paper as Sarah Annie!!! Smaller bus took us into the town centre where we were told we would go to the travel agents to confirm the plans.

Chongquing is very different to other places we have been- it’s a very industrial place right at the bottom of the Yangzi with some amazing civil engineering projects underway.  This was a bridge being constructed about 100 metres above the road.

Skyscaper motorway 

So were taken to the travel agents where we purchased a bus ticket to Wuhan for the end of the trip and a tour of the Three Gorges Damn. Were told we could leave our bags there and wander around town until 18:00 whe we would go to the boat. Had a wander about the streets which were filled with markets and people busling around. Were trying hard to find some fodder as we hadn’t yet eaten which proved difficult as everywhere looked filthy!! Headed back to the agency and found a Chinese restaurant next to the water. Headed in and found the only other Westerner form the bus and his Singaleese wife and two Malayan friends just finishing up. They inisted they helped us choose our food and managed to order a veritable feast of pork and papaya, spicy beef and the good old egg fried rice.

Had a tasty feast, played a few games of Rummy and shit head, sunk a few beers then headed back to the agents where we were ferried off to the boat. Met three Swiss people who were going to be on our boat, Sabina, Robin and Urs (Sabinas father) who had two bikes laidened with stuff. They had been travelling around Vietnam and China on Bikes and was fairly amusing trying to get them down to the boat. People were looking on in amazement as if they’d never seen a bike before!!

So after a 20 minute walk with turtle packs in situ, got to the harbour where there were three boats lined up which were in order of niceness. The first loked like a cruise ship and the next two were smaller and shittier. Needless ot say ours wasz the one furthest on the right and the ugliest. Thought well this is going to be fun and at least it’s floating!!!!

The Gin Palace Yangtze at Chongqing

Were met at the boat by Chen (a young Chinese guy) who would be our guide while on board. Unfortunately his English was only slightly better than my Chinese (which is none existent) and again wondered how the rest of the trip would transpire.

Were shown our room which we were excited to see as we had paid extra for first class accomodation. Well not what i would consider first class and certainly smaller than it looked in the brochure. The paint was peeling off the walls which were only half paintd and the smell from the en-suite was disgusting. Again the shower was a toilet/shower and the floor looked like it had never been washed, however these were our lodgings for the next three nights so would just have to grin and bear it!!!

The Gin Palace cabin The Gin Palace bogger

So as soon as we got on board Al decided to have a wee doze and I went up onto top deck (which we had just had to pay extra for the privelidge) and had some of the free tea and sunflower seeds. realised at this point we were the only Westerers on this level but soon bumped into the three Swiss guys again. Went down to get Al as boat was departing and were nearly deafened by the ships horn as we pulled out of the harbour and off on our adventure.

Leaving Chongqing3 Leaving Chongqing1 

Sat outside for a while then thought we would go and sample the beer. The three Swiss left at this point as I don’t think they drank (how unusual!!) Went into the bar and were immediately thrust a karaoke menu which we politely declined. Bar was full of older chinese men all drinking tea. Within minutes the first was up screeching along to some Mogwai style tune which they all joined in with and then the songs just kept on coming. fearing our sanity we decided to go and look for another bar and hopefully more Westerners. Went up and down the four floors of the ship only to discover that there was no other bar and no other Westerners and yes we were stuck on a Chinese ship for the next 3 days. Decided even we couldn’t face the Karaoke bar again and headed off to bed.

Were rudely awoken at 05:00 by music blaring into our cabin and noisy announcements on the tanoy in Chinese, worried briefly that the ship was going down but soon the knock at the door came. Chen was standing there telling us we had half an hour to get ready for our first exertion to a temple. A scantily clad Al told him in the politest wy possible to get to F**k and that we were quite happyto miss out on the temple. Chen seemed amazed by this and could not believe we would “sacriwise this bootfull seat”. So anyway back to sleep until 09:00 when all the rest of the punters returned from the temple. Spent the day up on the deck reading our books surrounded by sunflower munchin, tea drinking Chinese who had to have a picture taken with every sight we passed.

Not sure if everyone knows but for the last 20 years the Chinese have been building a huge damn at Yichan which will power the equivalent of 18 nuclear power stations on completion. This was a task initally suggested by Mao in the height of Communism to empower China and to reduce the number of deaths from frequent floods. The damn is 2 Km long and when completed will increase the height of the entire Yangzi to 175 metres above it’s original height. This will leave many houses underwater and mountains will become islands. So we would be one of the last lot of people to see some sights as the damn will be completed in 2009. The damn will eventually be holding back 660 Km of water and should it burst will wipe out the nearby town of Yichang within 20 minutes, killing millions (let’s hope they’ve built it well). So all along the river there are markers illustrating where the water will rise to and what will be submerged. Quite fascinating.

 High Water Mark Stone Treasure Stockade2

Caught a glimpse of our captain who if you look closely was wearing a captains jacket and pyjamas - hope his driving is better than his dress sense!!

El Capitain 

Went for lunch in the dining car which was suprising good with a huge diversity of food from turtle to chickens feet (tasty). Met the 3 Swiss and ate with them and discusted our likes and dislikes of China (which were very similar). After lunch continued reading on deck and taking in the sights.

Yangtze River views4 Yangtze River views5

Were summonsed to the dining car for “dinner” at about 18:30 where we met two Chinese diamond merchants (Haiwu & his mate who’s name we could not pronounce) who joined our table and spoke English (thank Christ). Were introduced to some of their customs including Chinese wine which is 50 % proof and drank straight (a bit like whisky) and we exchanged meals and beer. they also gave me a Jade ring as a token of friendship (which we were half expecting to have to pay for but suprisingly didn’t have to). The ship pulled up to Fengie at 21:00 where we got off to look around the Zhangfei temple. Was good and loads of little stalls selling allsorts of food along the way. Temple was illuminated like Disney land and full of bizarre stuff.

Neon lights on the temple2 Buddah and Statue Kwik-E-Mart?

White Temple Bazaar Horseback Ninja

And here we encountered the worst toilets in China….

Crappers at the White Temple 

Got back on the boat and continued drinking with the Chinese guys and playing Rummy and Chinese card games.

Were awoken again at 05:00 and again declined the tour. However at 11:00 had to get off to go and see the Three Gorges. Got off boat ad were transferred onto a smaller boat where we commmenced our three hour tour of the gorges.

Little Three Gorges14 

Scenery was beautiful along the way and saw loads of houses which would soon be underwater.

Little Three Gorges15 Little Three Gorges17

The Gorges were just incredible. Passes through Dragon Gorge, Misty Gorge and Tiger Leaping Gorge.

Little Three Gorges13 Little Three Gorges7

Little Three Gorges12 

Got off this boat and went onto an even smaller boat (like a junk) where we saw the mini gorges. Had to wear some ridiculous life jacket which did not give me much confidecne in the boat. However the water was crystal clear (a big difference to the polluted filth of the rest of the Yangzi) and the weather was roasting so I wouldn’t have objected to much if we had fallen in!!

Little Three Gorges22 Little Three Gorges27

Little Three Gorges29 Little Three Gorges23

Little Three Gorges31 Little Three Gorges28

Was trully amazing, saw a snow leopard in the trees and there was a variety of entertainement along the way from a woman singing on another boat to our gremlin guide doing a ear bleeding Mogwai tune. Soo after three hours and several stop offs at local markets we returned to the ship where we headed off down stream again.  Headed for dinner agiain and met the Chinese guys who once again joined us for dinner, cards and wine. Also met another one of their aquaintances (Qian) a rubber merchant (to do with tyres not the other types of rubber you pervs) who joined in and also had great English. Stopped at our final place Guizhou Quyuan where the boat pulled in to a dance and drum display by the locals.

Welcoming Party at Guizhou (in NVG) Welcoming Party at Guizhou

Boat stayed here overnight then it was up early doors passed the last of the Gorges (Xiling) arriving at Maoping at about 08:30. Here we got off boat for final time and were herded on to another bus to head off to the Three Gorges Damn. Arrived at the damn and were simply overwhelmed by the size and the construction round and about it. The height of the river was very apparent and the nearby population was massive which re-iterated the ragic effects that would happen should the damn fail. Got off the bus at a visitors centre where a new guide showed us around and explained what was going on (in Chinese so no clue). Our new friends did translate a little though and explained that in building the damn they have tried to keep anything precious. This was a 2000 year old tree which had been dug up and replanted. If you look the poor old chap is actually on an IV drip (didn’t think trees needed them)!!

1000 year old tree1 1000 year old tree2

So anyway saw a few sights like the machinery that was used to build the damn….

Big Dam Truck 

and some impressive views of said damn….needless to say Al had to crush the damn.

Crushing the Dam Upstream view of Dam3

Upstream view of Dam2 Dam 'n Al

Were then steered off the gift shop and onto the actual damn itself. Were dropped off in the car park and told to get on another bus up to the damn and tthen return in 2 and a half hours. Up at the damn it was amazing to see the different levels and their was a 5 stage ship lock where we watched a few boats go through the water dropped about 100 foot in about 5 minutes.

Dam shiplock3 Dam shiplock4 Dam shiplock5 Dam shiplock6 

Then had a wander. Got over to the actual damn where you had to get into a golf cart to get over it.

 Dam Buggy

Needless to say Chinese queing system was prevailing and tempers were rising in the boiling heat. Anyway manged to get on after being completely searched and having to remove all from pockets including tissues against they could be used for kindling.  Went over damn where the size was just overwhelming…

Dam Crane Dam Concrete

They built it solid - just like me Upstream Dam Crane1

Dam Bucket More Dam1 More Dam4 More Dam5

After much pushing and shoving managed to get on a bus back down to our bus which took us to the local town of Yichang.

Beautiful scenery en route…

 On the Way to Wuhan2 On the Way to Wuhan4

There it was time to change buses again and were quickly ushered onto new bus to start the 4 hour ride to Wuhan. Got on bus no worries and were just about to head off when the driver stopped, got out sat down on a plastic stool, lit a fag and started reading the newspaper. 2 hours later were still sat stationary on bus. Bus then filled up to the point of sardineness and eventually we pulled off.

Stopped along the way at several dodgy public conveniences where I encountered “ratty” in my cubicle (lovely) and decided agianst dining at said establishment (didn’t stop Al).

Finally arrived in Wuhan at about 20:00 and used the Lonely Planet Guide book to find a hotel. Well hotel was probably the worst we have stayed in and the burgunday bathroom set was disgusting and filfthy. Popped out for dinner and tried to find an intenet cafe to no avail and gave up. Slept well and got up early to try and find out the best way to Kathmandu. Had been advised by guide bok that there was a foreigneres travel agents nearby so after spending an hour trying to locate it were told it had been demolished. Went inot a local posh hotel who had a travel agents and were told it was virtually impossible to get to Kathmandu unless we paid about 500 quid each (nay chance). So headed off found an internet cafe and checked out options. Decided the best thing to do was to head back to Shanghai and see what to do from there.

So it was off to the train station where we had a scenic tour of Wuhan….

Wuhan Skyscraper Wuhan temple from taxi2

Booked ourselves a hard seat for the 20 hour journey (yes that’s right not even a bed just a claustraphobic uncomfortable seat for all night) that cost a tenna each and headed off again.

Met a nice Chinese guy Micheal who entertained us for a while with his knowledge on football and read books, played cards and dozed for the rest of the trip. Was actually not to bad but v glad to be getting off and both arses were now square.

Al and Micheal Tired Al

Arrived in Shanghai the next day and decided to check out a different hostel, whioch was lovely (brand new) and just as we were checking in Seamus and Ania walked in who were also staying here. So went and showered then met up had a full English Breakie (including baked beans and tea with milk) and felt like nothing could be better!!!! Al had found an Indian restaurant in Shanghai so headed out that evening where we indulged with seamus and Ania in Rogan Josh, Korma and all the other well know specialities washed down with a few Tiger beers.

Ruby Murray 

Went back to the hostel and sat up with a few more beers and some dodgy red wine where we met a few other people and after a couple of hours went off to bed. I awoke the next day with a blinding headache, cold and cough (God damned train germs & evil wine) and spent the day reading and recovering and catching up on laundry and emails.

That evening went out for Korean food - kind of like hot pot and then beef wrapped in lettuce which was pretty good and lapped up the sights of down town Shanghai.  

DSC01737 DSC01734

DSC01739 DSC01740

Have now manged to book train tickets back to Hong Kong where we will take the ferry to Macou. From there we have got chep flights (80 quid for the 2 of us) to Bangkok where we can get a flight to Calcutta or Kathmandu for cheap. So looks like we should get to Nepal late next week. So the adventure begins tomorrow and back on the bloody train where I can give these germs back to someone else.


18 Responses to “The Damned Yangzi !!!”

Ivanardon said:

Wow… karaoke on a boat, how good is that..

I think the jade “friendship” ring was given to Al cos the chaps fancied him, he seems to be striking progressively camp poses as the tour goes on…

Posted on November 5th, 2006.

Jason Fasi said:

Glad to see your trek is going well enough. I’m entering on that filthy boat at 18:00 today, following behind ya. Here’s to hoping!

What was the name of the hostel in Shanghai?

Posted on November 6th, 2006.

Dooch said:

Hahaha, dam is spelt without the ‘n’ on the end you retard. Out of the country for a few weeks and your grammar and spelling are already as bad as a french exchange student.

I would also like to be able to say that Al carries off the look with the necklace, but he doesn’t. Poofter eh? I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s soon mincing about with a cravat and a trilby.

Posted on November 6th, 2006.

To say that we are disappointed is an understatement. You have been in China for over a month and have taken what seems like millions of dogy pictures, but not one picture of a bloody ninja. There must be thousands of the dark clothed, cunning little ba****ds running about the streets and not even one picture. Look I know ninjas come originally from Japan, but what difference does ninety degrees make (think about it).

Pictures of Llamas from Nepal required.

p.s. Al with breasts your size I’d ditch that necklace. Were you told you’d have bad luck if you didn’t keep it on & charged £40 for the priveledge?

Posted on November 6th, 2006.

Pam & Robbie said:

Guys - just catching up with your travels. Wow! Sounds like you’re having a ball. Miller says you’re doing well (unlike his wallet (I’m surprised the museum let it out for the night) after settling the bar bill). Take care and good luck!

Pam & Robbie xx

Posted on November 7th, 2006.

EEDO said:

I hope the Jade necklace is adjustable?
Please tell me you haven’t tied it in a double knot?
With your ever expanding neckline it’ll get swallowed up and need surgically removed!!!

Posted on November 7th, 2006.

Murray & Pam said:

Hi Al & Sarah,

Al, I told you I’d be jealous of yoos…..and how!! Looks like you’re having far too good a time mate!

You’ll be pleased to know that I am no longer getting all my food, bevvy and entertainment paid for by our former employer, having packed it in two weeks ago. So that’s all the good lookin’ folk away now…..

If you’re getting homesick (which I doubt), then there’s a job or two going to become available at Ibrox any day now!!

Anyway, take care and enjoy yourselves - Ginger Jambo!

Posted on November 10th, 2006.

seamus and ania said:

hey you guys, hope you made it to cat-man-do, us? we’re in a fantastic place- yanghsuo, best so far, going to chill out here for a while then off to kong hong to meet up with al and yo yo! should be good
don’t get frost bite any where precious.

Posted on November 10th, 2006.

Maggie said:

what an adveture!! All looks fab guys!! cant wait for next stage.
take caer LoL Maggie

Posted on November 11th, 2006.

Al said:

I dont seem to be getting a decent vibe back home about this necklace. Let me clarify the situation with it. Not only does it make me look sexy, but the necklace is of a female buddah which promotes virility and good health to the wearer. The necklace remains, besides it now matches my new pashmena and flowery pants…

Karoke King - i might have known you would have something to say about it. Some of these guys were almost as good as you, although they were lacking your star crooning quality on stage!

Jason - You decided on the cruise down the crystal clear river then! We stayed at the Shanghai City Central Youth Hostel (Utels) and the breakfast was particularly appealing!

Bawbag - The Damned Yangtze was a kinda play on words - not a literal comment about the Yangtze Dam, but thanks for the heads up. As for the necklace - see above.

P and P - I cant get it, i just cant. Not the pictures of the ninjas - i’m sure i can sort that out along with the lamas. No, what i cant fathom is the ninety degree thing - you have to explain. As for the necklace - see above.

Robbie and Pam - Thanks guys. Andy was the genial host while we were there - the daddy if you will. However when he was leaving the hotel we did wonder why he was scaling a rope down of the outside of the building, hmmm…

EEDO - fanny - see above.

Murray and Pam - Back to reality then with a crunch then big chap? It was a horrible thing to hand back that AMEX and have to use you own money again - i sympathise! Anyway your talking like the seasons over….!

S ‘n A - Glad to hear it’s going well. Thanks for the frostbite tip, i shall remember to ensure theres no egg on my chin. See you guys in oz!

Maggie - Glad to hear your enjoying it, although you do realise we are actually holed up in a one bedroom flat in London faking the whole thing? Wait and see!! Take care

Posted on November 12th, 2006.

Dooch said:

“we are actually holed up in a one bedroom flat in London faking the whole thing”

Doubt it, you lived in a 3 bedroom house with 3 khazis and that wasn’t big enough for you.

Posted on November 15th, 2006.

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